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Brian Cray - Hitchhikin', Trainhoppin', and Wanderin'

Wanderin' the world, at will, by any means

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Archives for May 2015

Kanyoo Swallow?

Albion NY

More urbex in Albion, NY. I’ll get a story going later on, but here are pictures from my recent exploration around the airport.

So basically I purchased a whip from Walmart for $125.00 like I stated before in my previous blog post and ended up taking her for a spin to Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. If you haven’t been there and are in the area I would recommend checking out Kanyoo Trail and Swallow Hollow. Yes, if you combine the names Kanyoo Swallow Hollow it sounds like a porno, but the scenery is pretty epic. There are an endangered species of warblers there among Canadian Geese, and snapping turtles. I actually ran into a snapping turtle on my way back from the park. Those guys may be slow, but if you tap them to see if they’re alive they move like lightning and go into ninja attack mode. Fucker almost bit the toe of my shoe.

Aside from that there are a few marshes to check out in the preservation area. I preferred Ringneck marsh out of all of them. It’s definitely a great spot to chill, relax and go fishing. You can walk around most of the marsh as well. The water is pristine dark blue and filled with fish.


Goldy Locks Silo Climbin’

WNY Urbex

Somewhere along the way I ended up back in Western New York for the summer. I did not want to come back, but due to mitigating circumstances and chaos on the west coast I found myself wandering back through the countryside.

WNY Urbex

WNY Urbex – exploring an abandoned barn near the drop zone.

At least I have a bed for a few months while I pack tandems and sport rigs at the Pinehill Airport. I’m hoping to pay off my loans this summer so I’ll officially have ten dollars in my pocket. But hey, I’ll be debt free!

WNY Urbex

Selfie at the top of an abandoned feed silo.

I got a jump in already and hit up the local Walmart to buy a Schwinn bicycle for $125 with taxes.  Hoping to take her to Letchworth State Park and the Erie Canalway Trail back to Delaware come September.

Until then it’s just working and wandering.  I rode 30+ miles today down random roads in the Town of Barre. I stumbled upon a rusty feed silo and dilapidated house. Of course I climbed the silo to see the view inside. Even the most skilled portrait artist could not scribble the expression of fear pronounced on my face.  I checked each metal ring as I scaled the silo by giving it a slight tug.  Everything held me perfectly as I looked down inside the hollow, cement cylinder.

WNY Urbex

WNY Urbex: Climbing an abandoned feed silo in WNY.

The house looked like an old home from the early 1900s. Most of it comprised of a mat foundation with stone walls.  The roof caved in in several places and rotten, sun-dried wood scattered across a porcelain tub next to a series of rusted gears. It looked like a creepy scene from a zombie apocalypse movie.

Phoenix South Mountain Park Meets MS-13

Phoenix South Mountain Park

So I took time to browse Craigslist while I was staying in Chandler at my buddy Jay’s place and found a sweet deal on a bicycle, pump and lock for $60. Despite the short-lived stay in Arizona, I needed something to get around during the day when everyone was at work.

Highline Canal Trail

The Highline Canal Trail on my way towards Phoenix South Mountain Park

The cross-threaded pedal made me wary about long-distance riding and the crooked seat with broken shocks made for an uncomfortable ride, but with all the accessories I could not turn down the offer. I took the bicycle out the next morning and rode from my friend’s condo in Tempe, AZ to South Mountain, a distance of 15 miles. The route took me through downtown Tempe past much of ASU. I cruised through the area passing multiple bars, restaurants, and urban neighborhoods. I don’t care what people say about the desert lacking humidity. The heat out here gets unbearable in the afternoon. Cycling for hours to reach the mountain made me experience heat stroke despite drinking a 2-Liter bottle of water a few times. By the time I needed to quench my thirst it was already too late. I spent much of my time in the shade out of the sun trying to regain my composure. The route I took put me straight in gang territory. I cycled through the Indian reservation passing a bunch of run-down mobile homes with gang graffiti scribbled over them. The name SUR13 and DUSK drawn in sharpie and spray painted on multiple homes, and stone walls made me use extra caution while cycling through the area. I followed the highline canal trail for 8+ miles to Phoenix South Mountain Park. Vacant buildings covered in gang graffiti popped up on each block I passed. I felt a bit out of place as the only white boy in the area, but everyone I encountered kindly greeted me and I either nodded, said hello or waved back at them as I pedaled on my way to the Preservation.

Saguaro Phoenix South Mountain Park

Saguaro Cactus on Phoenix South Mountain Park

Across from the Scorpion Gulch building shells I locked my bicycle to the Phoenix South Mountain Park signage, which briefly explained the park rules. My feet trudged along through the Sonoran Desert sand as I looked for rattlesnakes and kept my eyes on the herbage. Off in the distance my eyes latched onto the many Saguaro Cacti, their many arms signifying their age, some of which stood there for more than 150+ years. The sun beat down on me burning my arms, chest and some of my back. I stopped multiple times to refuel, eating peanuts, a power bar and drinking more water, but nothing seemed to help my headache. I continued trekking following the trail until it came to an end. Then I made my own trail getting closeups of the cacti and other vegetation as I walked closer to the Nature Trailhead. The best part about the Phoenix South Mountain Park Nature Trail was the signage giving brief explanations of the plant-life and desert animals. I learned the Sonoran Desert was the 4th largest desert in the world and the poisonous animals to watch out for being the rattlesnake, the bark scorpion and brown recluse spider. I walked on following the trail along the road until I reached the peak overlooking Tempe, Arizona. The sound of gunshots echoed through the desert bouncing off the valley’s of the mountains below me. At first I thought a firing range sat beneath me in the city, but I shortly realized people just shot off random rounds into the desolate desert.

Tempe, AZ

Looking down on the city of Tempe, AZ from one of the highest peaks in the park.

I sat there on a rock looking down on the city below me. Behind me a series of cell phone towers perched on Phoenix South Mountain, and to the sides of me, nothing but the arid desert, cacti, lizards and granite rock. I soaked in the peaceful view for as long as I could bear it and eventually plodded down the mountain seeking refuge under a shelter to lower my core body temperature.

Cacti Tempe

More cacti…not sure exactly what type of cacti, but nonetheless, beautiful!

Red River of the North

Skydive Fargo, Oil, Fat People and Beer

Hobo at Skydive Fargo

I left Phoenix on April 20th by Greyhound for a cross country journey to Fargo, North Dakota. Jay and I thought he would get back to his roots with a club drop zone, but from the first day nothing worked out at all. He picked me up in a rusty, beat up 1988 Buick, the paint, a putrid light blue, right mirror completely gone and duct taped to the car and interior straight out of the 80’s. Electrical wires came out of the dashboard, capped off and dangling all over the place. I later found out the owner of the vehicle, Terry, was an electrician, so that made sense.

Fargo, North Dakota

Outside of Greg’s house in Fargo

Jay drove down Highway 81 after picking me up from Jefferson Lines to head for Greg’s house. We did not meet Greg for a few days, but Skydive Fargo let us stay with him until we got situated. As soon as we arrived in the driveway the car broke down. We mocked the vehicle by taking pictures of Jay leaning up against the ride throwing up hand signs. He looked like a 16-year old boy with his first set of new wheels. The only chicks that saw the backseat of this vehicle were only fat chicks. Bad karma from the beginning made the rest of the stay less than delightful. However, my sole purpose of being in Fargo was to pack parachutes, make money, and head to the next town.

Fargo, North Dakota

Construction site in Fargo, North Dakota

Terry tried replacing ignition switches and coils, but nothing worked. She sat in the driveway for the rest of my stay in Fargo. They would not let us relocate to the hangar in the airport until we found a cheap place to stay so after a week my friend left and flew back to Phoenix. In the meantime I felt cooped up in Greg’s house with no place to go. Everyone worked full-time jobs so tandems did not start during the weekday until after 5 PM, which left me in a depressed slumber, just sleeping in a bed in a corner room in his basement.

Red River of the North

Exploring the area around Red River of the North. They have frisbee golf that goes around the river too!

I spent a few days roaming around the city of Fargo trying to find places to explore. Aside from the flat agricultural land and lakes I stumbled across a few active construction sites. As I walked further from the city I came across the border of North Dakota and Minnesota wandering along Red River of the North. The river starts in Lake Winnipeg, Canada and meanders down through North Dakota and Minnesota. It looked great for canoeing and fishing. I sat down on a log and noticed the skeleton and carcass of a dead deer off in the distance. The wind blew my mop hair in every direction as I sat and soaked in the sunlight and peaceful vibes of the calming river ripples.

Red River of the North

On the border of Minnesota and North Dakota. A deer carcass and skeleton!

It did not feel like home, but nonetheless, a new experience. The bars found us due to boredom along with promoting Skydive Fargo. Frank’s Lounge, and the Bulldog Tap brought in some tandems to pick up the start of skydive season. I watched Jay smoothly enter and exit conversations with such ease and replicated his style on a few customers. My sleep schedule at this point was still fucked from my trip to Asia, staying in Arizona, and all the greyhound bus rides in between, not to mention potential mono or thyroid symptoms hazing in on me. I drank at this point to fall asleep.

Tioga, North Dakota

Flying to Tioga for the Skydive Fargo event. 3 days of tandem jumping and fun!

Many cab rides, and trips to the bar meant a lot of money spent. Jay covered most of the costs without me asking, which made me feel bad, but still we did not have a place to call our own or a vehicle while still promoting the club. This left a sour taste in our mouths and eventually Jay packed up his bags and left since Skydive Fargo did not adhere to the contract in place.

Without a vehicle making rounds to the grocery store involved excessive walking. I hopped fences, ran across the highway and roamed around the Walmart until shuffling through the front entrance. I heard from many people on the bus that you can’t walk into stores with backpacks on in North Dakota so this made it even harder to shop for food and limited my options. I bought frozen pizza, wings, and a 1.5 liter of Mountain Dew, but several trips to the store became a nuisance and I got tired of relying on rides and places to stay.


Plane Selfie outside of Tioga

I stuck around Fargo for the skydiving event in Tioga, North Dakota. The pilot swung by Greg’s at 6:00 AM sharp on Friday morning. The deadly fog outside spread through the air making visibility slim to none. When we arrived at the airport we stayed in the hangar for hours waiting for the forecast to give the go ahead to leave. I snatched a student rig and chucked all my gear in the plane. Eventually the fog dissipated and nothing but blue skies went on for miles. I got a free 2-hour private plane ride to Tioga and saw the whole state of North Dakota from 5,000 ft ASL. North Dakota looks like a map. Looking down from above I saw a checkerboard of agricultural land colored different shades of brown and yellow with the occasional river meandering for miles and some green, forested vegetation branching off from the rivers. Thousands of small lakes popped up across the land filling my eyes with dark blue, green, turquoise, and sometimes silver colors. The reflection of the sun’s rays put a silver masking over the lakes as we cruised across the land, but as the plane changed direction they all went back to their normal colors.

Despite my short presence in the state I saw much of the land from many different angles and the plane ride there made my trip that more enjoyable. As we approached Tioga the pilot leaned over and motioned me to switch seats. Holy shit! I messed around with the controls for about 20 minutes in the air. I maintained altitude and heading, made some sharp turns and when turbulence struck us, we switched seats.

The next few days, though monotonous, put me back in the positive after a long trip in Asia where I depleted much of my savings. I packed 35 tandems and 13 sport rigs making a grand total of $511 over 3 days of work. The plane ride back I slept like a baby with my back against the tandem rigs and in the fetal position. I’m waiting to get paid for my work and heading back to Phoenix, Arizona on Wednesday since Jay bought me a flight out of here.

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